75th Members’ Meeting | Goodwood

It’s no secret that we, along with most fans of all things automotive, adore Goodwood. It’s not just a place synonymous with motorsport, but a name that evokes feeling; that stirs the soul. Whether you’ve visited the Hampshire race track or world famous hill climb or not, you instinctively know that the smells of oil, petrol and freshly cut grass mingle in the air, to form the image of an utterly unique place on our green and sceptre isle.

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The origins of The Members’ Meeting hark back to 1948, when Goodwood’s then owner, the 9th Duke of Richmond, allowed members of the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) access to his track. This continued up until 1966, when 71 meetings had been held. It wasn’t until 2014 that the legendary figure that is Lord March brought back the moniker, and reinvented one of the greatest motoring events on the planet. The Festival of Speed is amazing, granted, but if you’re a racing fan, this is on a whole other level. We sent photographer extraordinaire and Goodwood local Rob Schaverien to get up close and personal with some of the most famous cars in existence.

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The Sierra Cosworth is the epitome of a late 80s and early 90s Group A tin top. Loud, brash, and monstrously fast, they were all but unbeatable back in their day. Produced by Tickford, and with an additional 4 injectors enabling daft power, the ultra rare and super valuable RS500 is the one to have. With values of road cars nudging 6 figures, and the provenanced race cars fetching significantly more, they’re something most people rarely get the opportunity to get this close to.

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The main contender to the Cossie’s crown was the mighty E30 M3. This four cylinder, normally aspirated legend needs absolutely no introduction, and is widely regarded as one of the best handling and performing cars ever. It’s just perfect. Which is why you’ll need very deep pockets to pick one up nowadays.

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You know you’re at something rather special when you walk into the corner of the paddock to be greeted by a beast like this. The Lotus Esprit V8 is an absolute monster; a throwback to when huge aero was king, and brute force won races. This had us absolutely salivating all day, and sat wearing it’s battle scars with pride.

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One car that was in no short supply over the weekend was the Ford GT40. Every era was represented, from MkI to MkIII. With the values of these now well into the millions, being able to get so close to them is a rare treat, and chatting to the owners as if you were chatting to a bloke at the pub about his Ford Focus is certainly an experience.

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Now we’re really getting somewhere. That right there is a genuine, factory built, race proven Ferrari F40 LM. If you’re anything like me (or my age), you’ll have had a poster of the road going F40 on your wall, and the Bburago 1:18 model would’ve taken pride of place on your shelf. The LM though, is even more lustworthy, boasting centre lock magnesium OZs, lashings more carbon than the standard F40, some of the biggest brakes known to man and more boost than you can possibly imagine. It was the mould breaker that lead to some of the bonkers, unlimited GT1 cars of the 90s. Cars such as…

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…the clinically insane CLK GTR…

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…this Le Mans winning Porsche 996 GT1…

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…and, of course, the daddy of them all-the McLaren F1.

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There were a few F1s there over the weekend, but this was the real show stealer. The GTR LM Longtail is the ultimate incarnation of one of the most incredibly engineered and focused cars ever produced. When Gordon Murray and his team penned the design in the early 90s, they spared literally no expense. The engine bay is lined with real gold, for optimum heat resistance, and each road car had it’s own modem, so engineers back at HQ could assess any issues as they happened. Mind blowing.

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But this isn’t just a display of some of the world’s most priceless exotica; The Members’ Meeting gives ordinary folk (well, members) the chance to see these cars being driven how they were meant to be. The thing that makes it so unique is that every car that’s allowed on track has to have a proven racing pedigree. You won’t see any fibreglass replicas here.

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It’s not just modern stuff that takes to the track though. Some of the greatest moments of the weekend come from watching the incredible pre-war Bugattis, Alfa Romeos and Bentleys battling to win the coveted Selwyn Francis Edge trophy. Make no mistake, all of the cars out on track are driven, and raced, properly…

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…including the almost priceless and irreplaceable 60s metal competing for the world famous Graham Hill Trophy. With everything from 250GTOs to Aston Martin Zagatos and lightweight E-Types battling all out on track and really racing, this is one of the highlights of the weekend. And probably the most expensive when it goes wrong.

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The most popular race of the weekend consists of the Group 1 Saloon cars competing in the Gerry Marshall Trophy. With all cars in their original liveries, and often being driven by their original drivers, the atmosphere when they’re out on track is electric. They’re all driven exactly as they were in their heyday, and exactly as BTCC and WTCC cars are driven now-bumper to bumper, which leads to some incredibly close action. And some contact.

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The thing that we really wanted to see though, along with a lot of people it would seem, was the High Speed GT1 demo. This is a full on, goose bump moment. Not just seeing, but hearing and feeling some of the most legendary, not to mention some of the fastest cars ever produced at full race speed is something I will never forget. It included some very special automobiles, including…

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…the iconic Gulf F1 GTR LM Longtail…

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…the fire spitting genuine F40 LM that we discussed earlier…

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…one of the most famous GT cars of all time, the Harrods Mclaren F1 GTR, which was run by friend of WCS, Brookspeed Porsche owner Martin Braybrook…

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…and Nick Mason’s stunning F1 GTR No.1. With a longer nose, more aero and increased power, this is a very special car, not least because it was the only road going GTR ever produced. Unfortunately by the end of the weekend, it was slightly less McLaren F1 shaped, after Nick had an altercation with a tyre wall.

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Every year, the Goodwood team seem to, somehow, make their events better and better. Whilst the Festival of Speed is undoubtedly the most famous of Lord March’s spectacular weekends, our favourite is still the Members Meeting. It just feels more private, more exclusive than the FoS. and there’s nowhere else on earth that gives the opportunity for us mere mortals to get so close to our pin ups whilst they’re used for exactly what they were designed for.

Don’t ever change…

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Photos by Rob Schaverien

Musings by Si McNally

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